Eminem’s first album in four years is being promoted with fake pharmaceutical ads so good people are missing all the clues.
Interscope Records has been marketing Eminem’s latest album Revival since October through a series of advertisements that announce a nonexistent malaise called Atrox Ritimus – Latin for “bitter rhyme” – and propose a supposed cure called “Revival”.
Although the campaign doesn’t make any mention of the artist or the album, the ads do have tons of in-jokes and easter eggs that point to Eminem. From the inverted “E” to the subtle references to lyrics from previous albums, you honestly don’t have to be a detective to spot something fishy is going on.
Yet, the graphic design, the cinematography and the all-round production of the campaign is so perfect people were completely missing the fact that it has nothing to do with pharmaceuticals.
“When you’re experiencing moderate to severe Atrox Rithimus, the unpredictability of a reaction is always on your mind,” says a smiling actor while hiking outdoors, much in the style of an erectile dysfunction ad.
“That’s how I thought it had to be until I found out I could do it differently — with Revival. I learned Revival can help get and keep that shit under control.”
The ads are full with pointers to Eminem’s most famous lyrics: quotes such as “it’s easy to lose yourself” and “I won’t waste my one shot” are clear allusions to the rapper’s renowned track “Lose Yourself”, which won an Oscar in 2003.
The campaign was developed by Interscope VP Dennis Dennehy and Eminem’s manager Paul Rosenberg, who never thought people would take the ads seriously.
“At first, it was so quiet that we thought we went too straight with it,” says Dennehy.
“We did ad buys on SNL in a few markets. New York wouldn’t let us run it because they thought it was too on the money and misleading, which in retrospect is pretty great.”
As the release date approached, they were forced to send the real message rather overtly with a final clip that blows all nuisance out of the water and promotes the album blatantly.
“There had been so much speculation about an album coming that we knew his fans keep an eye out for any clues,” added Dennehy.
“And of course, drugs, especially of the pharmaceutical variety, are a theme that runs through so much of his work. The album name fits perfectly.”
Reviews for the album have been mixed so far, with Rolling Stone giving it 3.5 stars out of 5 and calling it “raw, honest and compelling as ever,” while The Guardian gave it 2 out of 5 stars and calling it a “total rejection of hip-hop”.